Paraquat is a lethal herbicide that is used globally to control weeds. Paraquat is currently banned in most countries but the United States still allows its use. In the United States, it is available primarily as a liquid solution and used in states such as California, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Louisiana in agriculture. The US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) classifies Paraquat as a “restricted use product” due to its extreme toxicity and the designation means that it can be handled only by certified pesticide applicators. Paraquat is marketed under a variety of product names, including Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat, Parazone, Cyclone, and Para Shot, among others.
Paraquat exposure can happen through skin contact and absorption, breathing the droplets through the nose or mouth, and accidental ingestion. Exposure can happen while mixing, loading, or applying the herbicide. Paraquat is known for drifting, especially in dry conditions. Therefore, people living on or near farms, golf courses, orchards, or vineyards using Paraquat can be unwittingly exposed to it. Also, due to overuse in farming and agriculture, oftentimes Paraquat can find its way into foods and water causing many people to unintentionally be exposed.
Ingestion of Paraquat even in small doses can be fatal, and there is no antidote. There have been safeguards put in place to protect accidental exposure to Paraquat. For instance, blue dye, a sharp odor, and a vomiting agent were added to Paraquat in the 1980s to help prevent accidental ingestion.
Effects of Paraquat Exposure
Paraquat causes toxic chemical reactions to occur primarily in the lungs, liver, and kidneys. These reactions can lead to heart, kidney, and liver failure as well as lung scarring. There have also been multiple studies that have found Paraquat exposure to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, a unique risk factor that has not been linked to any other pesticides or herbicides. The exposure to Paraquat and resulting diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease has been the focal point of litigation against manufacturers of Paraquat.
EPA Regulations and Legal News
In 2013, the California Poison Control System and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) sent letters of concern to EPA regarding a series of deaths from accidental ingestion of the pesticide Paraquat in the San Joaquin Valley of California. AAPCC cited 50 deaths from Paraquat; at least 12 were from accidental ingestion of Paraquat from a beverage container.
The fatalities resulting from Paraquat products transferred into beverage containers prompted the EPA to investigate all reported cases. EPA identified 27 Paraquat fatality reports through 2014. More than 80% of these Paraquat fatality cases reported were due to ingestion of the product. The EPA has warned the applicator community about the high toxicity of Paraquat and has released very specific guidelines to prevent poisoning and how to protect workers who use the herbicide.
On October 6, 2017, a lawsuit was filed against Syngenta and Growmark, the manufacturers of Paraquat. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who had developed Parkinson’s Disease after being exposed to Paraquat.
Here For You When You Need Us
If you or a loved one are experiencing adverse side effects or have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease following exposure to Paraquat, our team is here to help. Count on our years of experience with herbicide litigation and extensive resources to seek justice on your behalf. We’ll help you understand your legal options and be there to support you every step of the way.